Spending All Day on Facebook Is Not Writing.

Stephen Fry made an interesting comment when he spoke at The Sydney Opera House recently on his writing process. He made mention of the fact we write fiction to tell the truth and nonfiction to invent the truth. The thought stuck with me for days afterwards. Days.

I’ve pissed a fair few people off over the years writing various things– I don’t write fiction– but nor do I declare my writing to be some sort of universal truth. There are others to consider. Other perspectives. Other dimensions. And of course, experience. It all comes down to experience. Some of us see what we want to. Most of us are far too preoccupied with the business of looking good. I’m not that bothered by being liked by all. It’s not feasible, you see. Not everyone’s going to be enamoured by what I do. Or what any one does for that matter. It’s simply not possible.

Still, it always comes as an unsettling development when someone writes me with negative feedback about my work.

There’s a lot of rejection in every trade. A lot. No one has an easy job of building a life. Even the happy idiots and the inheritance babies have their own version of struggle all mapped out in their minds– We all do it tough. But there is certainly something unique about writing. For a start, loads of people don’t even see it as work. My “hobby.” I was recently informed by an uncle that there are plenty of other ways to make money other than writing books. My response was silence. It can be infuriating how offensive some people are, just as they are offended, I suppose.

I’ve copped a bit of bad press this week. More so than good, really. There are some 200 odd cats that ready my blog everyday, every now and then someone leaves a comment (usually a writer or some other sort of artist, interestingly) and then of course, there’s the criticisms.

They’re inevitable. I understand that. And I must admit I’m getting better at processing them.

Par the course.

Ying and yang.

Up and down.

It’s cool. It’s all cool.

So today when I woke with an entire day set aside to write I found myself not in a state of grace, but rather, absolute panic. I’ve felt anxious and flustered all day. I want it to be over. I’m a small primary school child again, pounding my fists on the dinner table as my mother tears up my assignment and instructs me to begin again– to do a better job– to write neatly. To write a draft first. To make it aesthetically pleasing. To try harder. To push further.

Im grateful for this education. I was always very slap-dash as a child. I didn’t care for academia or assignments I just wanted to get it done and then get back to my imaginations, my daydreams. Little has changed.

It’s all safe inside your head, isn’t it? No one can poke at it. Hold it up to the light and finger the holes. Nobody can comment or criticise or tell you that that’s not what happened or what was said. It’s all so safe inside a daydream. All of it. All the time.

I had all this in the back of my mind this morning when I sat down at my dining table to work.

I grew hot and flustered almost immediately. I was copying and pasting all of my existing word documents in to a Google Document for ease of editing and sharing– There was a war in my mind and it was entirely me against me. This went on for hours. I kept checking my emails. Perculating coffee. Plucking my eyebrows. Wasting my fucking life, afraid to hone in on the very thing I know I care the most about. My book. My fucking book.

I logged out of Facebook and began. From the beginning. I began. Patiently, persistently, with equanamity– I did my very best for hours and hours. I didn’t cry. I didn’t pound my fists on the table. I didn’t roll a spliff or phone a friend or masturbate senselessly in order to distract myself– I didn’t run away from the feeling. I sat with it. All day long. And I felt like a little kid all the while. Bereft and frustrated. Alone and struggling to read the words, to make sense of all those pages. Because there’s no one to blame. No finger to point. I know that the only thing dividing me from the life I want and the life I have is a few more hundreds of those same hours spent chipping away– working, working, working.

x.

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